In the article “Why You Stink at Fact-Checking,” author and psychology assistant professor Lisa Fazio discusses why humans are unable to detect or understand “fake news” or misinformation- both purposeful and accidental. She illustrates a common example by starting her article off with the Moses Illusion, in which a question about Noah’s ark is asked, but with Noah’s name replaced by Moses. This illusion tricks most people, as many do not catch the name switch. Fazio goes on to say that things like the Moses Illusion happen all the time in current news articles, and as they seem correct enough and they are sneakily thrown in, they often go unnoticed and are accepted. Fazio and her colleagues also conducted studies in which they quizzed participants beforehand to find out what they already knew, and they found that when those people were fed misinformation, they would later answer with the wrong information when quizzed afterwards. (https://theconversation.com/why-you-stink-at-fact-checking-93997).
The cognitive principles used in this article were mainly linked to processing. System 1 processing is a kind of processing that is automatic and unconscious. It allows humans to “know” things without really thinking about them, such as how many fingers someone is holding up without counting each finger. Additionally, a new idea has been proposed and considered generally correct that we automatically assume that information is true until we truly think about it and decide that it is false (https://psycnet.apa.org/fulltext/1993-44074-001.html).
These principles apply to the article as when the participants read the misinformation, they were using their system one processing and thus automatically assumed that the words that they were reading were accurate. As they were unconscious of reading the words as true, participants were led into answering incorrectly as per the misinformation told them to later on, despite them previously knowing the correct answer. However, even when the participants were given alternate methods of absorbing the misinformation and extra time to think about it, they still did not notice the false information.
I think that this article did an excellent job of talking about these cognitive psychology topics and ideas. I could definitely tell that it was written by a practiced and knowledgeable psychologist. I liked that the author used both previous research and her own research to truly explain and dive into the subject matter at hand. I think it truly highlighted the knowledge that the author has in the field. The author’s writing style also made her familiarity with psychology clear, as the article was perfectly concise without leaving anything unexplained, and did not use any flowery language to appear more pompous and worldly.
I thought that the topic and information was very interesting, and also very relevant to today’s time. In this recent few years, America in particular has been wading in “fake news” and misinformation from the media and important individuals in the country. The research done in this article could very well be very helpful in reducing the amount of times people just accept what they read, and could prompt people to examine information a little more closely every time they hear something instead of just allowing system 1 to take over and decide what is true for them.
Fazio, L. (2018, March 29). Why you stink at fact-checking. Retrieved from https://theconversation.com/why-you-stink-at-fact-checking-93997
Gilbert, D. T., Tafarodi, R. W., & Malone, P. S. (1993). You can’t not believe everything you read. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 65(2), 221-233. doi:10.1037/0022-3522.214.171.124